Search

How personal loss prompted Paul to help others coping with bereavement

12:00 12 May 2014

Paul Sullivan with Keira Stiff, one of the children attending a Family Support Service’s art day

Paul Sullivan with Keira Stiff, one of the children attending a Family Support Service’s art day

Archant

Saint Francis Hospice’s family support manager Paul Sullivan understands the pain of losing a relative there far too well.

Paul Sullivan (centre rear) with Sue Spong (front centre) with a team of bereavement councillorsPaul Sullivan (centre rear) with Sue Spong (front centre) with a team of bereavement councillors

In 1993, his mother Sheila was taken to the hospice, in Havering-atte-Bower, while suffering from skin cancer.

She had been coping well at home until she woke up one morning unable to speak.

Paul, who was then 24 and working as a manager at a telecommunications company, had heard of 
another hospice in Hackney, but knew nothing of Saint Francis, and tried to calm his mum’s fears.

Memories

During her time in the 
inpatient unit, her symptoms were controlled, she regained some speech, and was discharged and given therapy at home.

Sadly, Sheila’s health 
deteriorated a few weeks later and she was readmitted to Saint Francis, where she died.

Paul said: “In the last week of my mum’s life we practically lived at the hospice. I have lots of fond memories of the family gathered at her bedside and taking my mum in a wheelchair around the beautiful hospice gardens in the summer heat.”

He took up the offer of counselling, along with other members of his family.

Everyone close to someone who dies while in the hospice’s care is offered support. They can have one-on-one meetings or opt for group sessions.

Paul, who lives in Romford, said the counselling helped him work through his grief and he returned to his job.

After the trauma of his mother’s death, which followed that of his partner the previous year, he did not think he would return to the hospice.

He said: “I was working in the City and facing 
redundancy, and the way counselling helped me sparked an interest. I wanted to help others.”

So Paul retrained and helped people at Whipps Cross Hospital and in the witness service at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

“I never expected to come back to the hospice but the job came up and I decided to apply,” he said.

He got the job in 2005, and is now the Family Support Service manager at Saint Francis.

When he came back, Paul found the stigma about counselling which was still there in the 1990s was dissolving and more people were embracing the help on offer.

Since 2005, the service has gone from helping 200 clients a year to more than 1,500, and there is now a dedicated children’s service.

Paul describes his job as a “privilege” as he helps people through the toughest times.

He said: “After my mother died I thought I was 
going mad with some of the things I was feeling.

Latest Romford News Stories

Yesterday, 16:30
Motorists on the A13 between Wennington and Rainham

Reckless drivers are endangering the lives of Havering residents by reaching speeds of up to 124mph, the fastest clocked in London last year.

Yesterday, 15:54
Lawrence Webb  ( Ukip )

A Havering councillor is standing as deputy of one of the candidates in Ukip’s leadership election.

Yesterday, 15:13
Luke Hudson (centre) with his mum and dad on his 21st birthday.

The son of a taxi driver who tragically died at the wheel of his cab has paid tribute to the “best dad anyone could have asked for”.

Yesterday, 12:16
Seven men have been arrested by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and four tonnes of toxic waste removed after two fuel laundering plants were discovered in Essex on Wednesday Picture: HMRC

Seven men, including one in Hornchurch, have been arrested and four tonnes of toxic waste removed after two fuel laundering plants were discovered in Essex on Wednesday.

Yesterday, 07:00
Parents at Parsonage Farm Primary School fought off expansion in 2015

Councillors have criticised the borough’s plans to expand schools, claiming that school kitchens are already failing to provide hot meals for pupils.

Thu, 16:29
Police at the scene last night (credit: donatassimkus.com)

Three men have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a shooting in Gidea Park last night.

Thu, 15:26
British Transport Police

A man has been identified and will be interviewed by police after a disabled commuter was pushed and slapped on a train.

Thu, 12:02
Jim Reynolds pictured with Stalkers Lily

Romford Greyhound Stadium has terminated its contract with a high-profile trainer after accusing him of “bringing the integrity of the sport into question”.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Competitions

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now